Archive for November, 2008

Important! info! for those who never received a stimulus check

November 26, 2008

(But who think they should have received one.)

stimulus-check.jpgTime’s a-wasting if you really should have received a stimulus check this year. I’m printing the lead question from tomorrow’s column in this space today because, for you, time is of the absolute essence.

Q: How or where can one inquire why we never received the economic stimulus check? We didn’t receive a letter as was announced would happen in October with payment to follow in November. Everyone we know received their checks months ago. — D.K., Fayetteville

irs_logo.jpgA: Right after you read this answer, put any other plans on hold and go directly to the Internal Revenue Service’s Web site.

We’re not kidding.

That’s because if you really were eligible for a stimulus check this year, you have to contact the IRS by Nov. 28 —  Friday — to actually have that check mailed to you this year.

If you really were eligible, but don’t alert the agency in time, you’ll have to hope that next year you can claim a “rebate recovery credit” when you file your 2008 federal income tax return.

“Hope” you can claim a credit? Won’t they just send the money then instead of now?

Not necessarily. If your financial circumstances changed this year to the point that you’d no longer qualify for the stimulus or for as much of it as you would have based on your 2007 tax return, the payment would be adjusted accordingly. It would stink to forfeit money because you missed a deadline.

Meanwhile, just because “everyone” you know received stimulus checks months ago, that doesn’t mean you qualified for one or for the full amount. Click on the “economic stimulus payment” link on the IRS Web site to see if you really are eligible for the check.

If you are eligible for a check, you may receive $300 to $600 if you filed singly and $600 to $1,200 if you filed jointly. If you have eligible children, you may receive an extra $300 for each one.

The actual amount of your check would depend on the information on your tax return. The IRS Web site has an economic stimulus calculator that you can use to figure it out.

The letters you mentioned were sent by the IRS to about 260,000 married couples who were once denied the stimulus money because a spouse’s married name and Social Security number didn’t match. You apparently weren’t in that category.

Note: Your name isn’t on the list of checks that were sent to taxpayers but returned to the IRS as undeliverable. There were 794 of these in Cumberland County. They’re worth more than $460,000. These folks must also contact the IRS by Friday to update their address to get their check this year.

Before you contact the IRS, make sure you have at hand your Social Security number, your filing status and the number of exemptions listed on your 2007 return.

Don’t have Internet access? You can call the IRS’s economic stimulus hotline at (866) 234-2942 — but it’s not open on Thanksgiving Day. But it will be open Friday until 10 p.m.
 

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Thanksgiving eats

November 24, 2008

With the holiday nearly upon us, I’m going to post some FAQ info — what restaurants are open Thanksgiving Day (that I know of) and where good-hearted folks can donate their time that day.

First: restaurants.

thanksgiving-meal.jpegAs per this recent column, they include Cracker Barrel on Jim Johnson Road, open from 6 a.m. to 10p.m. Thanksgiving Day; Georgia Brown’s Bar and Grill on Raeford Road; Golden Corral on Skibo Road and Ramsey Street, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.; K&W Cafeteria on Village Drive, 10:30 a.m. to 8:30 p.m.; Ryan’s on Skibo Road, 10:45 a.m. to 8:30 p.m.; and Sandpiper Seafood Restaurant on Eastern Boulevard, 10:30 a.m. to 3 p.m.

And Waffle Houses are always open, 24/7, whatever the day. Mmm, Thanksgiving waffles.

Next: Volunteering.

Per this column, you can lend a hand at the annual Thanksgiving feeds put on by the City Rescue Mission and by the Caring 7.

rescue-mission-thanksgiving-2007.jpegThe rescue mission expects to feed and provide clothing and toiletries to 400 homeless and needy people at its 331 Adam St. location on Thanksgiving Day between 11:30 a.m. and 5 p.m. Call 323-0446 for more information.

caring-7-getting-ready-in-2007.jpegThe Caring 7, a charitable group of local men, expects to serve about 1,000 turkey dinners to any and all comers in the parking lot outside Vick’s Drive-In at 506 Rowan St. from 11 a.m. to probably about 3 p.m. Show up anytime after 7 a.m. to help them set up or however you can and want to.

salvation-army-thanksgiving-helpers-in-2007.jpegOther groups, including some churches and the Salvation Army, serve Thanksgiving meals, too, but the ones we know about are already set for volunteer help. But Christmas is coming and many would welcome help for efforts centered around that holiday.

And many, such as the Rescue Mission and the Salvation Army, provide help year-round to the needy — and thus need help from volunteers on non-holidays, too.

Let me know if you have more info — or questions — on either subject.

Fayetteville community garden

November 18, 2008

Today’s column talks about a plan to create a community garden in the city — the first of many, hopes organizer Candace Williams, who works for the Sandhills Area Land Trust.

Williams said she hopes the project will inspire people around the city to create community gardens in their neighborhoods.

She said the creation of community gardens in her home town of south Boston had helped transform (for the better) both its landscape and the feelings of its residents.

Boston has a thriving community garden program now. So do many communities around the nation, including Charlotte. You can find more info on community gardens at the sites linked in this sentence.

Below is an overhead view of the design for Fayetteville’s community garden, which Williams is hoping will be in action come spring.

communitygarden11.jpg

TV talk

November 14, 2008

Today’s column deals, in part, with why one reader can no longer pick up WECT over the air, without a cable or satellite feed.

These maps of the station’s service area, on file with the FCC, may provide a starker explanation.

The first was WECT’s rough service area when it still broadcast an analog signal. The second is the station’s service area with its new digital signal, which clearly isn’t nearly as strong. But that’s not an automatic thing. I checked many other local station’s analog and digital service area maps and most show little change. So it’s a WECT thing.

wect-analog-contour-service-map.JPG  wect-digital-contour-service-area.JPG

Looking back

November 6, 2008

While checking out the rest of the world’s newspapers to see if/how they presented news of the U.S. presidential election on their front pages, I was particularly struck by one front page — that of the Jam-e-Jam in Iran, which belongs to that country’s state broadcaster. I don’t know what the heck the page says but the Obama photo they chose to play big just seems… odd. I wonder what message the paper is trying to convey with the photo — that the new U.S. president will keep his back to Iran? That all Iran wants to see is the back of him? That, well, yeah, he does have quite a set of ears? That this was the only photo that Jam-e-Jam could find of Obama and, heck, something’s better than nothing?

jam-e-jam-in-tehran-iran.JPG

Maybe the page designer was just trying to be arty in a not particularly successful way? I don’t think so.

Other foreign papers chose rear-view shots for their front pages, too, but they aren’t so stark. What do you think?

El Pais in Madrid, Spain; the headline says “Change has come to America”

el-pais-in-madrid-spain.JPG

Il Sardegna in Sassaro, Italy; the headline says “In history”

il-sardegna-in-sassaro-italy.JPG

Publico in Madrid, Spain; the headline says something like “Starting Change”

publico-in-madrid-spain.JPG

Front page news

November 5, 2008

Did the rest of the world pay much attention to the U.S. presidential election?

You betcha. So to speak. Here’s a look at some of the front pages today from newspapers around the world, courtesy of the Newseum.

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La Presse in Montreal, Canada

la-presse-in-montreal1.JPG

Diario do Comercio in Sao Paulo, Brazil

diario-do-comercio-in-sao-paulo-brazil1.JPG

Diario de Pernambuco in Recife, Brazil

diario-de-pernambuco-in-recife-brazil.JPG

Clarin in Buenos Aires, Argentina

clarin-in-buenos-aires-argentina1.JPG

Ultimas Noticias in Caracas, Venezuela

ultimas-noticias-in-caracas-venezuela1.JPG

The Guardian in London, England

the-guardian-in-london1.JPG

La Tribune in Paris, France

la-tribune-in-france1.JPG

Diario de Noticias in Lisbon, Portugal

diario-de-noticias-in-lisbon-portugal.JPG

Stars and Stripes, European edition

stars-and-stripes-in-germany.JPG

Die Tageszeitung in Berlin, Germany (the headline means: “Good choice”)

die-tageszeitung-in-berlin-germany.JPG

Dziennik Lodzki in Lodz, Poland

dziennik-lodzki-in-lodz-poland.JPG

The Aftonbladet in Stockholm, Sweden

the-aftonbladet-in-stockholm1.JPG

The Jerusalem Post in Jerusalem, Israel

the-jerusalem-post.JPG 

Israel Hayom in Jerusalem, Israel

israel-hayom-in-jerusalem1.JPG

Daily Al Bayan in United Arab Emirates

daily-al-bayan-in-uae.JPG

The Gulf News in Dubai, United Arab Emirates

gulf-news-in-dubai-uae.JPG

Today’s Zaman in Istanbul, Turkey

todays-zaman-in-istanbul-turkey.JPG

The Namibian in Namibia

the-namibian-in-namibia.JPG

The Times in Johannesburg, South Africa

 the-times-in-joburg-south-africa.JPG

The Telegraph in Calcutta, India

the-telegraph-in-calcutta-india.JPG

Star in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia

star-in-kuala-lumpur-malaysia.JPG

South China Morning Post in Hong Kong, China

south-china-morning-post1.JPG

The Beijing News in Beijing, China

the-beijing-news-in-china.JPG

The Segye Times in Seoul, South Korea

the-segye-times-in-seoul-south-korea2.JPG 

The Jakarta Post in Jakarta, Indonesia

the-jakarta-post.JPG

The Courier-Mail in Brisbane, Australia

the-courier-mail-in-brisbane-australia.JPG

The New Zealand Herald in Auckland, New Zealand

the-new-zealand-herald-in-auckland.JPG

Countdown to E Day, pt. 2

November 3, 2008

Just a reminder of the how-to election info buried in this post, under the pix.

And then…

How the candidates have been spending today:

Getting off the plane:

1103-obama-gets-off-the-plane-in-charlotte.jpeg

And on the plane:

1103-obama-getting-on-the-plane-in-jville-fla.jpeg

And off the plane:

1103-mccain-in-indiana.jpeg

And on the plane — well, actually, off it again (in a different place):

1103-mccain-in-fla1.jpeg

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Talking

1103-obama-in-fla.jpeg  1103-mccain-in-fla3.jpeg

1103-palin-in-missouri1.jpeg  1103-biden-in-missouri1.jpeg

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And waving

1103-palin-in-iowa.jpeg  1103-mccain-in-pennsy1.jpeg

1103-obama-in-fla1.jpeg  1103-biden-in-ohio.jpeg

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Hugging, and shaking hands

1103-obama-in-charlotte.jpeg  1103-mccain-shaking-hands-in-tenn.jpeg

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And pointing — a lot of pointing.

1103-mccain-in-tennessee.jpeg  1103-palin-in-missouri.jpeg

1103-obama-pointing-in-fla1.jpeg  1103-biden-in-missouri.jpeg

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What will happen tomorrow? Who knows?

 1103-mccain-in-indiana1.jpeg  1103-obama-in-fla2.jpeg 

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As you’ve probably heard by now, there was also mourning going on today. Obama learned this morning at a campaign stop in Florida that his grandmother had died a short time earlier in Hawaii.

Note: All photos in this post were taken today by AP photographers. If you place your cursor over the photo, a small info box should pop up, telling you where the candidate was at that time.

Countdown to E Day

November 3, 2008

How much longer ’til Election Day?

1101-mccain-in-virginia-5.jpeg ?

No, no, no. Not 5 days.

1101-mccain-in-virginia-4.jpeg ?

Not 4, either.

1102-biden-in-fla.jpeg ?

Definitely not 3 1/2.

1101-obama-missouri-3.jpeg ?

Not 3.

1101-palin-in-raleigh-2.jpeg ?

Nope.

1102-obama-in-ohio-in-rain.jpeg ?

There ya go.

One day away. Or, more precisely, about 18 1/2 hours away. Or, if you live in the tiny town of Dixville Notch, N.H., which famously opens its primary and general election polls at midnight in order to draw a little (or a lot of) attention to itself, 12 hours away.

In North Carolina, the polls open at 6:30 a.m. and close at 7:30 p.m. I wonder if/how long I’ll have to wait in line to vote tomorrow. (I’m one of those who likes to vote on Election Day.)

I know my polling place. Do you know yours? If not, you can call the local Board of Elections at 678-7733 or click here and click on “show me my voter information.” At that site, plug your name into the search boxes and your county and you’ll pull up your basic voter-registration information, including your polling place and links to a map and a list of the various districts that you’re in — city, county, state and federal.

If you want to bone up — or refresh your knowledge of — the various political candidates, there are various places to do so, including the Observer’s election info site; the local election board’s site, which has a list of all of the candidates; and the voter guide put out by the state Board of Elections (warning: it took a billion years for my computer to download that guide but I also had a billion tabs open at the time).

There’s been a bit of fuss over how North Carolina’s ballot is structured. If you want to vote a straight-party ticket — that is, vote for all of the Democrats or all of the Republicans or all of the Libertarians and no one else — you can check one box and be done.

sampleballot2.JPGWell, almost done. A straight-party vote doesn’t apply to the presidential contest. If you want to vote for president, you have to mark that box, too. That’s spelled out pretty clearly on the ballot but… I have been known to ignore directions in my time because I was positive I already knew what I was doing. Sometimes I did. Sometimes… not so much. Just keep it in mind (if you aren’t among the 40 percent of folks who’ve already cast their ballots).

Now, since the campaign is coming to an end, I can’t resist posting a few more pix from the recent trail.

Battling silhouettes:

          1102-mccain-in-pennsy.jpeg  1101-obama-in-nevada.jpeg

Waving — or wavin’ — the flag:

          1102-biden-in-fla.jpeg  1101-palin-in-fla-in-weird-photo.jpeg

Hand-some:

          1101-obama-in-missouri.jpeg  1103-mccain-in-fla.jpeg

And: Huh?

      1101-obama-mask-in-netherlands.jpeg  1102-young-mccain-and-palin-supporters-in-ohio.jpeg  1102-sand-sculpture-of-candidates-in-india.jpeg

Note: All of the photos in this post were taken over the weekend or today by Associated Press photographers. If you put your cursor over the photo, you’ll see a little info about when the photo was made and where (and who is in the photo; if you’re wondering about the silhouettes, that’s McCain on the left and Obama on the right).